It can change at the flick of a "Switch"

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 31/07/2014
  • By Riana Crehan

It happens so quickly in this game. One minute you are up, the next you are pointing head on into the tyre barrier and sitting sixth in the Championship, 282 points off the lead.

Is it over for CL?That's what I came away asking myself after a pretty sensational weekend at the Castrol Townsville 500 - Driven by Tafe Queensland. How can he possibly come back from such a disaster?

Then I look at the numbers coming into this weekend's Coates Hire Ipswich 400. Thirty-four race starts, 11 wins (more then any other driver in history), four pole positions, home test track.

We know he is never down for long - the only question I have is, will he be able to keep his eyes open after a mammoth weekend at the Spa 24-Hour and does anyone have an epic cure for jet lag they want to share with him?

On a serious note, this is an absolutely crucial weekend of points for CL. With only two events left before the ever-important Pirtek Enduro Cup, if he doesn't get himself back on track unfortunately I think he will have to wave goodbye to the 2014 Championship trophy.

What we also learnt from Townsville is that Jamie Whincup is more focused than ever.

His boyhood and Championship rival Mark Winterbottom was off the pace by his usual standards, and Whincup got himself that Sunday big points win he has been chasing the past few rounds.

That 'payday' win means the gap has closed to just 96 points.

Winterbottom and his engineer Shippy [Grant McPherson] were genuinely scratching their heads at Townsville, simply unable to unlock any qualifying pace from car 5 with 17th, 19th and 12th in the three qualifying sessions. In fact, to find Frosty's last ARMOR ALL Pole Position, you have to head back to Phillip Island, 2013 (November)! It really goes to show Frosty has had the race pace this year and he does like the Dunlop soft tyre.

On that note, we head to the 'paperclip' this weekend where we are back to the SuperSprint format, with two 100km races on Saturday and a 200km race on Sunday all on the soft compound tyre.

Queensland Raceway is a really unique 3.12km track with only six corners. With all except two right-handers, you basically want to sacrifice the setup of the car to be biased towards the right hand corners.

Turns one and two are very fast fourth gear corners, with the well-known bumps at one. They were smoothed out after the resurfacing in 2011, but the drivers say the bumps are slowly creeping back in.

The most important part of the track are turns three and six. Drivers need the base setup of the car to suit these parts of the track. Long, slow double apex right-handers, really tricky for the drivers to get right and really tricky to get the car to handle well.

As you can probably gather, the left side tyres cop an absolute beating round this place, which will make tyre strategies really interesting come Sunday.

Think Russell Ingall, Winton and Darwin -alternate tyre strategies almost had him spraying the champagne. I think we'll see this again on the weekend.

The combination of good passing opportunities, potential different tyre strategies and a circuit that rewards good chassis balance means we can look forward to another ripper weekend.

Oh,and did I mention the top six in the Championship are all covered by less then a weekend's worth of points (282). How many days til we go racing???

Riana's Wrap

- Whincup will no doubt be standing on a podium - he is a sure thing.

- Look out for the Enforcer. He has three wins at QR and has threatened on the soft tyre in 2014!

- Tander will be looking to continue his momentum after a wicked Townsville, he also has 5 wins here.

- Frosty needs to find the front row! With Whincup on the charge qualifying is crucial this weekend!

- This weekend's Smokey. Two poles in the last two years, the current qually record, a podium at Townsville, Erebus' home test track, recent upgrades - Will Davo looks the goods to take his first victory in the Merc!

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